Tuesday, July 26, 2022 6:00 am
General Ibrahim Babangida, IBB for style, former Military President, has expressed what he expects of the Nigerian leadership as the country moves higher in its political culture and inches closer to the 2023 general elections. Indeed, there is a countdown going on everywhere. In an interview conducted and published by TheCrest, IBB reveled that he would like to see a situation in this country where two things will happen. “I want to see a situation where a minority – whatever they call a minority in this country – where a minority is the president or a minority is the vice president. I also will like to see a situation where a Christian is the president and a Christian is the vice president or a Muslim is the president and a Muslim the Vice President; and Hausa-Fulani president, vice president.
He added: “If we have this at the back of our mind, and we are working to achieve it, it is possible because being a president doesn’t mean anything to a man in the village. What he is interested in is education for his children, security for his well being, and food on his table. If he gets those ones, you can go and argue the whole lot, he doesn’t give a damn.
There has to be communication between the government and the governed. The leadership should be able communicate easily, profess something to the followership and keep doing it. I think it’s a matter of time, they will pick it up.”
Below is the interview, published by The Crest
In another month, you will be 81.
You are just reminding me. I seem to have forgotten (laughter). God willing, yes.
God will continue to sustain you, sir.
Between last year when you celebrated your 80 and now, how has it been?
We thank God because I have been able to keep fairly reasonably well; obeying the doctors all the time. And we thank God, between then and now, I enjoy relatively good health.
You obey your doctors and that’s very critical for everybody regardless of age. Isn’t it?
Yes, it is. But I do I follow their instructions meticulously.
For those of us, who are trying to grow old like you, and I am not saying you are old sir (general laughter).
There is nothing wrong in saying I’m old.
What are those things that you will recommend, that will sustain us and help us to get there?
Remain your natural self and don’t get agitated quite easily. Remain very free and open-minded all the time. This is my experience.
When you say ‘don’t get agitated easily’, people will always step on your toes. Are you saying we shouldn’t get angry when that happens?
No, you should accept it as one of those things in life. I hardly get angry and I think that helps a lot. You live well with virtually everybody. And people get to appreciate that you don’t get angry, you try to calm down things. If you see others getting angry, calm them down. But you don’t get angry.
In summary, if you are going to tell us, the young ones, the checklist of things we have to observe to stay healthy, would you say: number one, you have to peace; you must not be agitated; you have to obey your doctors; you have to eat well…
(Cuts in…) Sleep well.
What are the other things?
And don’t overdo anything.
Indoor or outdoor?
Both indoor and outdoor (hearty laughter). Naughty boy (laughs again).
Are you worried that when you open the papers today, you read about people dropping dead like pawpaw, not because of any other thing but because of the stress of living in Nigeria?
It is happening everywhere. How you feel about that?
I feel reasonably bad and I think thing about that, especially when it is about medical issues–how we take care of ourselves. We need to do more; we need to talk to ourselves, and learn more about living healthy.
I can aspire to be healthy, but what if the prevailing environment does not allow me. For example, I struggle for food, water, light, passable roads, insecurity. I struggle, struggle, struggle. You’ve been there before sir. How do we ensure that the purpose of government, which is to provide happiness…?
(Cuts in…) And welfare of the people…
Exactly. What is the way out? How do we ensure this is achieved?
The way out is for the leadership to be able to situate themselves into the position of the ordinary persons. I will give you an example. When that man (points to Mohammed, his first son) was a young man, I was once traveling with him and we got into heavy traffic, and people were walking. He said there were too many people. He was about five or six at that time. So, I told him a story. I said: ‘Yes, there are a lot of people in the city. But you observe that some people are sweating, quarreling and so on. I said, you know, God has been kind to us. You are in a car with me now, air-conditioned, and you play music and all that. I want you to know that before God, you and I are the same with those people walking. So, don’t think that because you are in a car, you are better than them. God knows they are there.’
What I was trying to put in him is that everybody is equal. God created us differently and gives us His grace in one way or the other. Other are not so lucky. But we are lucky and we must also appreciate that. I said that because I didn’t want him to think that ‘Okay, they are not in a vehicle, we are in a vehicle; therefore, we are better citizens or better human beings.’ I said no. This is just the way I think. I developed some of this ability to tolerate or absorb a lot of inconveniences.
I am glad that Nigerians are now talking about competence. Everybody you hear these days, whether you are talking about a senator, or governorship, or even the president, they talk about competence, not the state of origin, not religion, or things like that.
Nigerians are generally hardworking, honest people; positively aggressive when it comes to existential matters. What words would you have for them at a time like this when it seems their universe is collapsing around them?
Hope. They should continue to remain hopeful that things will eventually change either by divine intervention or by something we ourselves will do. Like, saying, no, we can’t tolerate this. Let’s change the narrative.
By agreeing among themselves. Somebody has to provide the initiative. Somebody has to provide the leadership. I am one of those who believe that one tree can make a forest. You know, they say one tree can’t make a forest. But I believe it can.
Simple. I always give the example of the Hutus and the Tutsis (in Rwanda). If you ask anybody in Rwanda, a Rwandese: are you Hutu or Tutsi? He will tell you ‘No, I’m a Rwandese. Period.
After the 1994 genocide?
Yes, he is Rwandese. You can’t call him Tutsi or Hutu; he will be angry with you. That’s because they have changed the narrative of their country. It is like what we were talking about earlier. If you ask somebody here, ‘Are you a Nigerian?’ He will say ‘Yes, I am.” Then, you ask him: ‘Are you Hausa?’ He will tell you: No, I am a Nigerian.’ Therefore, since we have agreed to be Nigerians, we should see ourselves as one.
Are you saying that we should obliterate things like state of origin, local government, religion, quota system from our list of national priorities and considerations?
I think even the quota system itself was an effort to get the country together as one because the general complaints existed that certain group of people are more in, let’s say Ministry of x, or y, or z. So, we introduced that system. Now, I will give you an example: before, you didn’t have graduate unemployment in places like Kano. Now, you have. Therefore, that policy is bringing people to come at par in terms of level of education and so forth. It has helped in the last 50 years or so. As we move on, nobody is going to talk about quota system. This time, I am glad that Nigerians are now talking about competence. Everybody you hear these days, whether you are talking about a senator, or governorship, or even the president, they talk about competence, not the state of origin, not religion, or things like that. So, I think it’s a matter of time. If we stick to this, gradually things will change.
Earlier, you said the people themselves can say enough is enough. How will they say that?
People like you and I, the elite, should find a way of drumming it into people by any means – social media, conventional media, to say that if we truly believe that we want to be a country, these are the things we should do and make sure that people are imbibing them. In the last election in Anambra, for the first time, somebody was given money, he refused it. And this time, we have vote buying, fine. But it wasn’t so prevalent in Osun like it was in Ekiti. So, things will change. But we have to keep on hitting it hard for the ordinary person, or the masses to imbibe.
The youths constitute 40 per cent of the population and that’s a powerful bloc.
They are below 60 percent.
Okay, how do you suggest to them to harness their inherent powers to help this country achieve the greatness it deserves because all over the world, the youths, new voters are the agents of change?
I think the government or the leadership has a role to play in this. There has to be a communication between the government and the governed. The leadership should be able communicate easily, profess something to the followership and keep doing it. I think it’s a matter of time, they will pick it up.
Please, let’s digress a bit. Somebody accused you of working for a specific presidential candidate-Peter Obi to be precise, ahead of the 2023 election.
The allegation was that you and retired Generals Obasanjo and Abdulsalami are working to actualize the presidency of Peter Obi. How true is that?
No. I will like to see a situation in this country where two things will happen. I want to see a situation where a minority – whatever they call a minority in this country – where a minority is the president or a minority is the vice president. I also will like to see a situation where a Christian is the president and a Christian is the vice president or a Muslim is the president and a Muslim the Vice President; and Hausa-Fulani president, vice president. If we have this at the back of our mind, and we are working to achieve it, it is possible because being a president doesn’t mean anything to a man in the village. What he is interested in is education for his children, security for his well being, and food on his table. If he gets those ones, you can go and argue the whole lot, he doesn’t give a damn.
So, anybody that can give Nigerians that, you will queue behind him?
Continue reading from the source: TheCrest